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The Complete ID
Printer Buyer's Guide

This guide walks you through all the important considerations you'll need to know when selecting an ID card printer.

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Single-Sided vs Dual-Sided Printing

Single-Sided vs Dual-Sided Printing

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ID card printers come in both single-sided and dual-sided varieties, and can vary from basic ID card printers to sophisticated machines for high-security applications. The type of printer your organization needs will depend on the type of cards you want to print.

Single-Sided ID Printers

Single-sided ID card printers are ideal for a wide range of applications including schools, offices, and membership programs. The printer only prints on the front side of the ID card, leaving the backside blank.

It is possible to print dual-sided cards with a single-sided printer by running the finished cards through a second time to print on the back side. Since this is a time-consuming process, it is not recommended for most ID card programs.

Some single-sided printers offer field upgrade modules which allow you to add dual-sided functionality at a later date. These upgrades can usually be self-installed on site and add flexibility to your printer if your organization’s needs ever change, however it may be easier and cheaper to buy a dual-sided printer from the beginning.

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Single-Sided ID Printers are Best For:

  • Simple Card Designs
  • Needing All Info Visible at a Glance
  • Dual-sided Printing for Small Programs

Dual-Sided ID Printers

Dual-sided ID card printers allow room for more information and features by utilizing both the front and back sides of the cards. There are two ways printers do this—some printers flip the card and run it through the printing process again, while others have two printheads and can print both sides in a single pass.

Dual-sided printers are generally $200-$750 more expensive than their single-sided counterparts, and the print cost per card is generally $.05-$.31 greater than for a single sided card.

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Dual-Sided ID Printers are Best For:

  • Cards with Many Data Field
  • Magnetic Stripe & Signature Cards
  • Large Card Programs Needing Efficient Printing